long way round

Everything Is Amazing Nobody Is Happy

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I'm sitting on a plane surfing the internet, complaining at its slow bandwidth because I can't watch my football highlights. Louis CK had an opinion about this, and the gist of it is that "everything is amazing, and yet nobody is happy." Technology is truly amazing, but I guess it doesn't bring happiness.

Now, I'm just going to use this to make everything ok. 

Written by shindz

August 19, 2011 at 12:58 am

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War of Words

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The wife and I have a habit of getting into intense debates. Early in our dating period, in one of our car rides, we had what started out as a very light hearted conversation about government taxation. It soon escalated into a war of words by the time we arrived at our destination. I advocated for the need to tax more, especially the rich, and she, argued for a flat tax system where the rich didn't have to give up more just because they made more. Suffice to say, our differing views on taxes almost made us break up. 

Another time, we got into a very explosive disagreement about religion, or more specifically, church. I've developed a healthy dose of distrust for the church as an institution and advocated for more grassroots, communal organization of spiritual communities. She, on the other hand, strongly insisted that the church as an institution has been there for centuries for good reason, and should not be abandoned. If I could describe the intensity of our "debate", the picture of Mohammad Ali v. Frazier in the Fight of the Century come to mind. Or Godzilla versus Mothra. 

I'm glad to say, we've put our political and religious differences aside when we tied the knot . But our penchant for intense debates has not stopped there. Our most recent one? On investing. We've become hobbyists in stock investments and the wife has gained quite the knowledge in trading. One day on yet another car ride, she started with the opening statement "MSFT is worth investing in because we can always trust that they will always be around as leaders in the industry." It was just begging me to lay a counter argument with a sprinkle of examples of big companies with invincible reputations that have faltered (i.e., Sears Roebuck, Nokia, and even RIM) over the years. She countered my counter with MSFT's strong portfolio of products, monopoly-like marketshare and promising acquisition of Skype. After a few rounds, we adhered to the Good Book when it said "don't let the sun go down while you are still angry" and kissed and made up. 

Yeah, we're weird. 

Written by shindz

July 8, 2011 at 3:31 am

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Summer

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Went on a nice run through the suburbs of Deerfield, IL on a midwestern summer evening. The sun was setting, warm air was filling my lungs, and the smell of green grass lingered throughout the brisk jog in this quiet and idyllic neighborhood. It reminded me of my time in Ann Arbor, of all the summer runs I embarked on, from the Arb to Gallop Park, to North Campus and back. It was a place called home, with the familiar creeks and streams, and hidden spots where I can run through for my own solace.

Summers were filled with running. During the day through the crowd in Main Street, or in the night when everyone is sleeping. Sometimes under the heavy sun, other times in lightly drizzling rain. Any run was a good one. Long jaunts all over town, or a short jog through the neighborhood, it was all the same because it was still a run during the warm season, where school is out and things slow down.  

And then, as if on queue, just about when I was finishing my run, the night sky turned dark and violent with lightning and thunder. Rain poured on and sirens blared everywhere, lights flickering in and out in my hotel room. The nostalgia was interrupted and now I've come back to reality, that in the Midwest, tornados and thunderstorms are real. I shut off the AC and most of the lights, opened the window, and watched in silence the downpour. The dark clouds, the lightning, and the furious rain all came together in some terrifying beauty. Even this was good in my eyes, because it was all part of summer in the Midwest. 

Written by shindz

June 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm

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Rewards

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I'm here at the airport, waiting on yet another delayed flight home. I've been thinking about the "traveling consultant" life these days and the single biggest takeaway is that I've become obsessed with "rewards." It's in the game of achieving milestones and amassing points. Airline rewards, hotel points, and rental car upgrades. It's even bled into my coffee habit, where every Starbucks grande drip gets me one step closer to gold status. 
Priority access, here I come!

 

Written by shindz

May 27, 2011 at 1:48 am

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I Hate Android, I Love Android

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Ever since the Nexus S debuted, I drooled over it incessantly. Here it finally was, a successor to the Nexus One and markedly a vast improvement from Google's first iteration of its Android phone. It was to be the pinnacle in the marriage between hardware and software from a company that was known for its "engineering approach" to solving problems. In my mind, it was also the only worthy one to make me jump ship from the iPhone bandwagon. 
Overtime, my zeal and enthusiasm for Apple have been replaced by skepticism and a loss of faith. The walled paradise of iTunes became more of a prison than a utopia and the utter lack of respect for one's autonomy became all the more blaring. It was time to leave the cult in search of the rough and tumble waters of true freedom that Android promised.
The first week was absolute bliss. The Nexus S has a gorgeous 4 inch super AMOLED screen, with a slick curved front. It is thin, jet black, and minimal in its branding save for the name "Google" on the back. When the screen turns on and off, it mimics the box TVs of yesteryears, paying homage to the cathode ray tubes that paved the way for today's digital media world. And most of all, it does everything that the iPhone won't; transfer files directly to and from the phone with a USB cable, install apps not on the app store, and turn by turn GPS navigation (I'm the worst when it comes to getting lost) for free. I have fallen in love with a phone that wasn't Apple's.
But as I approached a full month of using it, the more I found myself comparing it to the iPhone and lamenting its poor performances in certain areas. The battery life is horrendously poor, not lasting a full day. Frequently I found myself with a dead phone by 5pm. The choppiness of the user interface (such as when it transitions from home screen to app, or when sliding from one screen to another) is clearly sub-par compared to the iPhone. And most importantly, the Nexus S, or more appropriately the Android platform, lacks serious photo apps. The iPhone 4 was my primary camera, offering stunningly beautiful hi-res photos with gorgeous effects applied courtesy of Instagram. There are other minor annoyances with Android apps compared to iPhone apps, making me hate this cursed phone and second guessing whether I made the right decision to make the switch.
It's been several months of mere tolerance of the Nexus S, but after this week I have become a believer again. The client site I am working out of has the strictest of network policies, often preventing me from accessing our own corporate sites, let alone Office Communicator. All week, I've been using the Nexus S as a mobile hotspot, jumping on its 3G connection to surf the internet, log in to Office Communicator, and even upload a 127mb file for a colleague with ease. All of this without paying an extra cent for tethering. It was a life saver.
Since much of my life is embedded in Google's services, the Nexus S delivers all of that seamlessly and effortlessly. I use Google Voice, Google Docs, Google Reader, and Google Talk daily on my laptop, and this week I found myself using the Nexus S to access all of these things while on the move. I've looked up rewards numbers at the Hertz desk using Google Docs, chatted with friends on Google Talk while commuting, and caught up with soccer blogs via Google Reader before boarding the plane.
Most of all, I am truly free with the Nexus S. I can upload any file directly to the phone without any intermediary software such as iTunes. I can look at the entire file structure, and upgrade to whichever OS I want to upgrade to. Even the UI can be customized via third party apps such as LauncherPro. It is as flexible as I want it to be, offering me unprecedented freedom that I did not have with the iPhone.
I can confidently say Android is terrible at certain things. But there's enough about it that truly makes it stand out from the iPhone, and is a welcome alternative to Apple's totalitarian approach to the world of mobile devices. 

Written by shindz

May 9, 2011 at 3:52 am

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Goals For The Summer

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I have two contradictory goals for the summer.

One is completing the P90x physical regimen. I’ve been growing tired of the spare tire that continues to inflate around my mid section. And it doesn’t help that I now live in a town with some of the most physically well endowed people. This is a place where many have aspirations to make it on the silver screen, and looking good is akin to having ruby on your resume in Silicon Valley. It might not automatically get you a job, but it sure makes you look sexy.

The other is tasting as many beers as possible on beeradvocate.com’s top 100 list. Since moving to LA, I’ve been introduced to many gastropubs, specialty bars, and german style “bier gartens.” Some of the world’s greatest beers is just a car ride (and traffic jam) away. A glass of scotch or bourbon is nice, but there’s nothing quite like the refreshing and often complex taste of a well crafted beer. 

I realize pursuing both goals with unrestrained rigor and persistence might end up counteracting each other. Such is the complicated irony of summers with no World Cup or Euro Finals. 

Written by shindz

April 4, 2011 at 2:44 am

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I Left My Heart In The Bay

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After almost four years in Northern California, the wife and I packed our little apartment and moved further south, to tinseltown. We moved to be closer to family. That's code for going to be the uncle and aunt that will spoil the heck out of their niece and nephew. Life in tinseltown will probably be different. I won't be going to any tech conferences hobnobbing with other geeks. I won't be swapping ideas with friends on the next hottest app or tech trend. Instead, in LA I will be fighting traffic day in and day out, only to lose 9 times out of 10. I will be gorging myself with the finest foods, including frequent stops at the Father's Office where Pliny The Elder is always on tap. I will also secretly work on making my not-yet-released book "Confessions of an Ex-Pastor" into a feature movie. No more quick jaunts to Napa. No more geek celebrity sighting of Sergei Brin or Steve Jobs. No trek through Emigrant Wilderness or Yosemite. 

The truth is, I left my

 heart in the Bay Area (to the tune of Frank Sinatra's crooning). The period of living there was some of the worst times, and the best times. I've hit the lowest of lows, and the highest of highs. There was a point where things were so bad, seeing a therapist seemed like the right thing to do. It was a period of going through detox from all the years of being in ministry. There was also a moment where things were so good, wearing my deadstock Military Grey Jordan IVs seemed like the right response. I got married and celebrated by wearing my Jordans to much of my wife's chagrin. 

I've met some incredible people along the way and was privileged to experience some once-in-a-lifetime events. Old friends who understood my journey and opened their homes to me for some much needed home cooked dinner and deep conversation, not to mention some lessons in mahjong. An invitation to visit Ghana and join a friend in exploring the country side, drinking in the African spirit of community and hospitality, and roaming the streets of Accra at night like locals. A small band of misfit Christians who opted to do things differently by deliberately simplifying their faith to the core necessities, which simply meant loving God and loving others. Spending time in what felt like purgatory while working at retail for the first time in my life, and building deep camaraderie with them in the trenches. Finding my way to Corporate America and meeting incredibly smart, funny, and nice people. Truly a dangerous combination. 

But now lies ahead a new chapter in a new town. I imagine there's more to be learned, more to be experienced. More searching and more finding. Oh yeah, and more Pliny The Elder.

Written by shindz

February 14, 2011 at 6:18 am

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